‘The Library’ Reprint

‘The Library – a world history’ was to some extent a victim of it’s own success selling out online in both the UK and US before the beginning of December. We may have missed a few Christmas stockings last year but Thames & Hudson and University of Chicago Press have been busy reprinting and now it’s available. There is also one unheralded advantage to getting the book second time around in that it is eight pages longer and features two additional Mexican libraries. These were specifically shot for the Spanish language edition published by Nerea.

The first is the Biblioteca Palafoxiana (1772-5) in Puebla which makes an interesting comparison of Latin American Baroque with the Roman Baroque libraries that are already in the book – Biblioteca Casantense (1719) and Biblioteca Angelica (1765). It’s peculiar because the galleries sit on and are supported by the lower book cases.

Biblioteca Palafoxiana
Biblioteca Palafoxiana

The second addition is Alberto Kalach’s amazing design for Mexico City’s Jose Vasconcelos Library¬† (2006) where all the book shelves are hung from the ceiling. Despite the mass of concrete above it’s designed as a series of arches with the Mexican sun pouring in between them allowing the space to feel both bunker-like and expansive. The centrepiece is Gabriel Orozo’s sculpture ‘whale.’

Kalash's central 'nave' above Orozo's sculpture
Kalash’s central ‘nave’ above Orozo’s sculpture


In a book of over eighty libraries these two constitute a minor footnote but they seem to complete the project in a satisfying way. The first illustrating the grand dissemination of Catholic baroque, the second the industrial scale demanded by today’s libraries.